I’m not so big. I have no strength.
These are often my thoughts when running after my son while rushing to work. It’s a full life with just enough room for my people — husband, son, family, friends, and a little girl named Samantha still growing within me.
My people are my world. But this world is not my home. And my loved ones — the ones sitting around the dinner table or chatting on Facebook — they are a fraction of my eternal community.
Behind the scenes at Seed Company, we’ve been broken by one simple question: How well do I know my eternal neighbors?
Most of us would say, “Not very well.”
We want to change that. So we asked humanitarian photographer Esther Havens and writer Kelsi Williamson to lead a small team to the land where Botswana and Namibia meet. Their goal was simple: to help us meet the San people.
Today, I invite you to meet Anna through Esther’s eyes and Kelsi’s words.
Anna is a single mother of four children from the village of Kapatura in northern Botswana. She’s one of the youngest narrators (Bible storytellers) helping to translate Scripture into Khwedom, her heart language.
Anna is quiet but wears the look of a curious and thirsty learner. Her fashionable hoop earrings and leopard-print dress are the only proclamation of this shy girl’s youth — for although Anna’s words are soft and few, she’s clearly been blessed with wisdom well beyond her years.
“I used to hear the Bible, but wasn’t really interested,” Anna says. Prior to intersecting with the work of oral Bible translation, never before had Anna received the opportunity to learn the Scriptures for herself.
The churches she used to attend taught false doctrines. They convinced members that the only way to know God was directly through the pastors in charge rather than through the Bible. Anna was never satisfied with only hearing what these “people of power” claimed as truth.
When Anna began attending Sunday morning Bible study, organized by Seed Company field coordinator Eben Le Roux, she was suddenly handed the power and confidence to listen, ask questions and learn more and more about God’s Word for herself.
Each week, those that attend the studies practice their ability to memorize, internalize and then share a new Bible story. They work together to reach the best translation; and everyone’s opinion, no matter their age or background, is viewed equally.
In her words, she explains why her favorite Bible passage is Matthew 20:1-16:
“This chapter is teaching me that the last will be the first and the first will be the last. The love of God is the same; He doesn’t love one more than another. His love is equal. When you believe in Him, that’s what He commanded and He will not leave you.”
While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by doctrines, teachings, degrees and pedigree, the simple gift of access to Scripture has provided Anna with more power than any social status could have ever brought her. This realization humbles her. Thankful and passionately ready to move forward, Anna prays that her actions bring glory to God.
We can’t think of a better way to pray for Anna than by praying the very words she says herself:
“I’m not so big. I have no strength — You are the only one who has strength. Give us Your love and give us Your strength that we may do and work. For this moment, God, listen to what I’m crying. This must be done in Your hands. Please take the evil things from the community — the fighting and hatred — so that we may love one another. By Your love, You created us as Your daughters and sons and sent Your Son to come die for us in our sins. By the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.”
A curious thing happened when I met Anna, my eternal neighbor. I felt an instant connection because, like her, long ago, I battled with false doctrine. But also like Anna, the Word rescued me. And I often forget that I’m just one of many women running after their children and rushing to work. I’m not alone — nor will I ever be — on this side of heaven or the other.
I’ve got a challenge for you. Now that you’ve met Anna, would you share her story with your people? Together, we can embrace our eternal neighbors now.
We’ve created an online experience just for you at theseedcompany.org/san. There you can view more of Esther’s work, read Kelsi’s stories and learn more about Anna’s people.
Together we can make sure we all have the same opportunity to read, to hear and to know Scripture, driving us to glorify God for our unique cultural identity and to, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10 NLT).
Together, in Jesus, we are just a little bit bigger and full of His strength.
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